New Joe Strummer – The Mescaleros Years – Box Set Available For Pre-Order

Dark Horse Records have just announced a new Joe Strummer box set, Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years. It will be released on September 16th as part of the celebrations honouring Joe’s 70th birthday year.

The press release says the set is “….the first-ever comprehensive collection highlighting Joe’s work with his post-Clash band, The Mescaleros. The collection includes remastered editions of all three of the band’s studio albums, plus 15 rare and unreleased tracks spanning the first demos Joe wrote for the Mescaleros, and outtakes of several tracks of Joe’s final recordings with the band.”

The box set was executive produced by Lucinda Tait (Strummer) and produced by David Zonshine and features exclusive new interviews with Joe’s friends, collaborators and Mescaleros band mates, plus never-before-seen handwritten notes, lyrics, and drawings by Joe taken from the Joe Strummer Archive. All the albums are remastered by three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles, John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie) and are packaged with extensive new liner notes, unreleased images, and four reproduction lyric sheets and chord charts.

Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years will be available as a 4CD with 72-page book box set, and 7LP with 32-page book, special edition packaging and exclusive 12”x12” art print.

The first track from the collection, the previously unreleased version of ‘The Road To Rock ‘N’ Roll (Demo)’ is available to stream now. The video for the song was created using Strummer’s drawings and handwritten lyrics found in the Strummer archive:

If you’re wondering about the title it’s because this is the second installment in what looks to a series of career-spanning compilations. The first, Joe Strummer 001, was released in 2018 by Ignition Records. Since then, Dark Horse has taken over publishing and distribution rights for the Stummer legacy.

“There’s so much great music that Joe left us in his archive,” says Joe’s widow and the executive producer, Lucinda Tait. “We started this work with 001, so to focus on Joe’s work with The Mescaleros was the natural second step on 002 because those songs he made with them just seemed to resonate so strongly and reinvigorated his connection with his audience at a level he hadn’t experienced since his days with The Clash.”

Harrison Estate and Dark Horse Sign Further Publishing and Album Release Deals with BMG

You might recall that back in 2020 the mega music distributor and publisher BMG announced that it had formed a multi-faceted, worldwide distribution partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded record label now led by his son, Dhani Harrison.

Well, there have been some developments.

Last week there was a rather intriguing press release from BMG announcing that they’ve now secured the publishing rights to the entire George Harrison song catalogue, including his Beatle, solo, and Traveling Wilbury compositions.

Plus the company has secured the rights to distribute some existing – and additional – interesting legacy artists on the the Dark Horse record label.

Here’s the official 2-page press release. We’ve highlighted those bits that grabbed our attention:

So, while there’ll be new publishing deals being done by BMG/Dark Horse for George Harrison’s compositions, it also looks like we can expect a range of interesting physical releases on the Dark Horse label.

These will include another EP from Billy Idol, and the new studio album from former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. There’s also likely to be a slew of back-catalogue re-issues from the great Leon Russell.

Interesting times indeed.

See also our articles on the six BMG/Dark Horse Records already released so far: Joe Strummer’s Assembly LP, Billy Idol’s The Roadside EP, the Billy Idol Happy Holidays Christmas album, Ravi Shankar’s Chants of India LP, and Joe Strummer’s two Record Store Day 12″ singles: ‘Junco Partner’ and ‘Johnny Appleseed’.

Another Joe Strummer for Record Store Day

Dark Horse Records has just announced there’ll be a further single taken from the Joe Strummer ‘best of’ compilation, Assembly, from earlier this year.

The label will be releasing, as part of Record Store Day Black Friday, a limited edition pink vinyl 12″ single with ‘Johnny Appleseed’ as the A-side and ‘At the Border, Guy’ as the B-side.

The 12″ will be limited to 4,500 copies worldwide and is out on 26 November. The single celebrates the 20th anniversary of Strummer’s album Global A Go-Go.

Both included tracks are remastered by Paul Hicks (The Beatles/John Lennon/The Rolling Stones/David Bowie) and will be cut at 45rpm on 12” vinyl for maximum audio quality.

The first single from Assembly was the picture disc 12″ of ‘Junco Partner’, released for Record Store Day Drop 1 on June 12.

Joe Strummer ‘Junco Partner’ 12″ Picture Disc for RSD Drop 1

It’s June 12, and that means the first of two Record Store Day Drops for 2021.

We weren’t aware (until we saw it just now) that there was anything of much interest for the “must have it all” completists among us – but there is!

The first is from Dark Horse, the label owned and operated by the George Harrison estate. The Dark Horse Records revival continues with a Limited Edition 12″ picture disc single of Joe Strummer’s ‘Junco Partner (Acoustic)’/’Junco Partner (Live)’:

It is available as part of Record Store Day – Drop 1 on June 12. There are just 3,500 copies available worldwide apparently.

The A-side features the home recording of the song ‘Junco Partner’, taken from Strummer’s latest LP called Assembly which is a compilation released earlier this year on the Dark Horse label. The B-side features a non-LP track, a live recording of the same song from Strummer and and his band The Mescaleros at London’s Brixton Academy in 2001.

The second release is a little more obscure. This is the first release on newly set up War Child Records and it is only available as part of UK Record Store Day Drop 1, and only 1000 copies have been pressed.

Back in 1995 as part of a fundraising effort, the HELP EP and ‘Come Together’ single were released by Go! Discs. These were associated with the iconic HELP album, which helped change the lives of children affected by the Yugoslavian civil war. Now they’ve been put on vinyl together as a very special 12-inch for the first time.

The EPs have been remastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios. Side A features Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Guru and Portishead. Side B features the Smokin’ Mojo Filters (with Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller), The Beautiful South, Dodgy and Black Grape. Cover art is by 3D (Massive Attack), which featured on the CD inner sleeve of the original 1995 HELP album, updated exclusively by the artist for this release. The back cover is the orignal John Squire piece which featured on the Help EP original cover in 1995, reshot for this release.

The cover for the RSD Help EPS

Joe Strummer – Assembly – Dark Horse

Dark Horse Records last month released Assembly, a double LP or single CD compilation of the work of Joe Strummer, post his Clash days.

This one kind of passed us by somehow, but for lovers of the Dark Horse label (now newly revived) this is a very worthwhile purchase – and we say that not only for those label completists out there but because it contains some truly great music. It was released on March 26:

Dhani Harrison last year announced that Dark Horse (the label established by his father, George Harrison) was back, and there ensued a raft of digital-only re-issues of previously available material.

There seems now to be more physical product slowly emerging. For example, as part of Record Store Day last year there was a double LP of Ravi Shankar’s beautiful Chants of India. Produced by George Harrison this was the first time that title had been issued on vinyl – and on red vinyl at that.

Now comes the Joe Stummer compilation Assembly. And it too is on lovely red vinyl:

It’s also available on black vinyl:

And it can be had on CD too:

Why is Dark Horse issuing a “Best Of” style release for Joe Strummer? What’s the connection? Your guess is as good as ours. We can only surmise that Dhani Harrison must be a major fan of the late singer’s work. Interestingly the recent Ravi Shankar Chants of India had the catalogue number DH0001. The Joe Strummer LP has the catalogue number DH0002. Bring on DH0003, 0004, 0005……

The LP is beautifully presented in a gatefold sleeve with lyric inserts and liner notes by Jakob Dylan (who last year was involved in the Dark Horse digital-only release of the Tom Petty estate charity single ‘For Real – For Tom’ also featuring Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson). It sounds fantastic too because it’s remastered by one Paul Hicks at Abbey Road Studios and obviously well-known here for his work on Beatle, George Harrison and John Lennon re-issues.

It is fantastic to see that Dark Horse Records label back on physical product. If you’re not familiar with Strummer’s solo work (or his work post The Clash with The Mescaleros) check this out if you can. He’s pretty amazing and Assembly makes for great listening.